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The Orisa

by Shannon Joyce Prince

Thighs of baobab and thighs of onyx.
Limbs of blood and amber and honey.
Aroni lives in the forest, seeing maps in the vines.
With his one leg, wounded, those remaining toes are like keys.
Like the earth risen from the sea,
Aroni has been in the ultramarine womb.
Remembering the secrets of birth and hydraulic volcanoes,
the innards of discrete enchantment,
that one foot is all that’s necessary to understand the ways of fauna.
The solitary foot converses with the soil, and dirt, crushed onyx or ochre
as garnet drops, guides that foot to the correct herb or vegetable.
Aroni, at this point nearly indistinguishable from the trees,
guides the people to the correct plant to eat, or smoke, or boil.
Aroni has one leg, because he even sees more than leaves or beetles or stones,
bodies inscribed with curses and fever.
Aroni is a note in a chorus of toxins,
a tone assailed by howls and moans,
so Aroni appears to have one leg, to be incomplete,
as a spirit can sometimes appear to have a form.
And what cannot appear, what is not visible is his completeness,
his invisible spirit which is a language fit for the tongues of fauna.
Health disguised as sickness
like a soul which garbs itself in a body.

Copyright © 2007 by Shannon Joyce Prince

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